Clinical psychologist Dala Fakhreddine: Balance is the door to psychological well-being

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Humans are in constant search of psychological well-being and harmony but could spend all their lives without reaching this state. This is all to be blamed on day to day stress and the multitude of challenges that paves the way to this ultimate goal. Well-being might seem a farfetched dream but it is not. It can be achieved through few steps that discusses in this interview with Dala Fakhreddine, clinical psychologist/psychiatrist at Mount Lebanon Hospital.

We all struggle with daily pressures, when do they become a threat to our well-being?

We all have our share of daily pressures but we qualify what’s pathological in terms of quantity. Increased levels of pressure can take a toll on one’s psychological health. Thus the difference between healthy and pathological pressure is, undoubtedly, the quantity of pressure.

Why different people react differently to stress?

We are a product of our gene pool and by consequence some of us have more stress tolerance. Also, our lifestyle has a great impact on our coping mechanisms. This being said, we should differentiate between the stress resulting of daily routine, overwhelming responsibilities and imbalance and that resulting of a psychological shock like death.

How to handle daily pressures to muffle their effect on our psychological health?

A lot of people resort to psychological treatment to learn ways to manage stress and cope with it. Especially in this era of speed, of constant hunt for increased productivity and income, we lack the time to focus on human development, social interactions, well-being and soul-searching. Increasingly, people are turning to meditation practices imported from the Far-East. They focus on posture, breathing and enjoying the little and daily things… this plays a vital role in managing stress. We digest multitude of events on a daily basis and in record speed which does not leave a room for contemplation. The goal of psychological treatment is to support and guide soul-searching and establishing highest possible levels of work-life balance which is the hardest by all means.

How to deal with external factors that could undermine our psychological health?

There are a lot of external factors that affect us but how to deal with them makes all the difference. Our role as psychologists is mainly to lend a hand with the understanding and perception of those factors to better deal with them. Worth mentioning that stress experienced by many people is related to character or mood and not only external factors. In these cases, genetics are pronounced guilty. We help this category of people as well to decrease their stress level and learn how handle the pressures and external factors that affect them.

Daily routine, is it a negative or a positive factor in achieving the psychological well-being?

It is a double edged sword, thus determining what type of routine is that is paramount. It should include some pleasure otherwise it can threaten the psychological well-being. It is essential as well to learn how to take a break from routine, briefly at least, that’s why taking vacation is crucial to maintaining balance.

What are the telling signs that someone needs the help of a psychologist?

Prevention is key and resorting to psychological treatment shouldn’t be the last bullet. Early diagnosis makes treatment easier and more efficient. It’s important to differentiate between a psychiatrist and a psychologist. Our role as psychologists is to help individuals suffering from burnout and loss of enjoyment, whose life became a series of mechanical functions. The pressures here are quantitative as we previously mentioned and accompanied by chronic fatigue and medically unexplained physical symptoms. Others prefer achieving psychological well-being through yoga and meditation. They are effective but cannot replace the diagnosis of the problem which crucial to determine the best way to deal with it. This is the main role of the psychologist.

Can thinking and planning the future influence the psychological well-being negatively?

Thinking about the future causes anxiety to some people while it motivates others to grow. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation. The optimal way is to focus on achievable goals and work on completing them as a step in the direction of bigger goals. It is noteworthy that obsession with future and planning is a stress factor and requires the support of a psychologist.

What last advice do you give to readers to improve their psychological well-being?

The best way to achieve psychological well-being is to reduce internal conflict. Balance isn’t only about setting goals and achieving them. Balance is to know what we have the power to change and to accept what we cannot change. This realization alleviates noticeably the weight of psychological pressures.

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